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Becoming a Family Attraction

In 1974, just over ten years after the railway closed, Eric Booth bought a section of the old railway line and the story of Lappa Valley Steam Railway began. Through hard work and determination, Eric built the new railway to realise his vision of a place where children and adults could enjoy the steam train experience. His passion for this project was to create a place for children to play safely and learn about nature from their surroundings.

In 2014, Lappa Valley was sold to Keith and Sara Southwell, who shared Eric’s belief in inspiring outdoor play and a safe and welcoming environment for families to visit. Keith and Sara have made some exciting new developments at Lappa, expanding our fleet of engines and investing in a new indoor play building for the site.

Keith and Sara are passionate about retaining the charm and heritage of the site set as they continue to improve and maintain the peace and tranquility and uniqueness of this magical place.

Cornwall Minerals Railway

The Lappa Valley Railway runs on one of the oldest railway track beds in Cornwall. In 1843 J. T. Treffry, a pioneer of Cornish railways, suggested building a tramway between Par and the growing port of Newquay, with a branch to East Wheal Rose mine which was then entering its most prosperous period.

East Wheal Rose Engine House

In 1846 over 1,200 men, women and children were employed in the mine at East Wheal Rose. In those days the valley would have been filled with the sounds of ore being broken up, wagons rolling in and out, steam engines hissing and whistling, and the general hubbub of so many people at work. In an age before television, this scene was the wonder of the neighbourhood and a favourite place for Sunday excursions.

East Wheal Rose Mining Disaster

On the morning of 9th July 1846, it was bright and sunny but at midday heavy clouds formed in the north-west and then gathered directly over East Wheal Rose. A tremendous thunderstorm began, lasting more than an hour and a half. Torrential rain fell on the mine and surrounding hills but, strangely there was no rain at all three miles away.

Great Western Railway

In 1896, the Cornwall Minerals Railway was taken over by the Great Western Railway. The GWR saw an opportunity to boost its passenger trade in Cornwall, in competition with the London and South Western Railway, by linking the increasingly popular holiday resorts of Newquay, Perranporth and St. Agnes.

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